Shopping amid bombings in Baghdad's vibrant souks

Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:44am EST
 
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By Mohammed Abbas and Waleed Ibrahim

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The "genuine" Aladdin's lamp contains no genie, but Baghdad's chaotic central market district seems to offer everything -- from iPhones to flyblown kebabs.

With crippling U.N. sanctions a distant memory, shoppers and vendors crowd Rasheed Street in the heart of Iraq's oldest and busiest shopping district, apparently unperturbed by deadly bomb blasts at another market district nearby.

"Iraqis have got used to it. Till when are we supposed to stay at home? We Iraqis are used to war by now," clothes shop owner Mohammed Hassan said at the Souk al-Araby indoor market.

A canopy of cables -- petrol generators compensate for Iraq's chronic power shortages -- runs the length of Rasheed Street into the indoor market. Shoppers dodge men and boys carrying goods on trolleys, carts or on their backs.

On Monday, a triple bombing killed at least five people in another central Baghdad shopping area.

Pulling clothes racks aside, Hassan's assistant shows large cracks in the wall caused by two car bombs in the underground car park a year ago.

Violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest levels since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 in recent months, but insurgents have shown they are still able to mount large scale attacks, keeping many Iraqis on edge. But not fearful enough to stop shopping.

"I'm used to bombings, I've seen a lot," said Ziyad Ahmed, an Iraqi living in Tehran but in Baghdad on a shopping trip.   Continued...

 
<p>A man carries a box of goods in Shorja market in Baghdad November 11, 2008. The "genuine" Aladdin's lamp contains no genie, but Baghdad's chaotic central market district seems to offer everything -- from iPhones to flyblown kebabs. With crippling U.N. sanctions a distant memory, shoppers and vendors crowd Rasheed Street in the heart of Iraq's oldest and busiest shopping district, apparently unperturbed by deadly bomb blasts at another market district nearby. REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz</p>